UDAK by Umanga Kulasekara

Fashion is a state of mind. A spirit, an extension of one’s self. Fashion talks. Fashion and art, are both fields of innovation and creative expression. Sustainable fashion is thus partly about producing clothes, shoes and accessories in environmentally and socio-economically sustainable manners. To take fashion and create a field of sustainability requires an aim, a vision and resources. Daily ARTRA’s Artist of the Week, Umanga Kulasekara builds a design aesthetic that focuses on producing and creating clothes that help the Earth.

Q: UDAK is a growing brand with its speciality in handweaving and its intention to highlight the more conventional aspects of our country. So, tell us what UDAK is to you.

A: UDAK’s design aesthetic will focus on “doing more” than just producing regular garments. Most of UDAK’s textile represents the rich Sri Lankan heritage. And when we speak about Sri Lankan heritage, we cannot miss out on traditional handweaving which plays a vital role in shaping the economy, diversity, and culture of Sri Lanka. Hand weaving is currently considered a dying art even for a country known for rich, beautiful handmade products that engage tradition and at risk of fading away in the next couple of years as the world has moved into a more technically advanced period where primitive design techniques have been replaced with advanced machinery. Hence Sri Lankan traditional artisans are experiencing a threat as weaving is one of the biggest sources of income in rural areas. In order to end this generational poverty, UDAK’s aim is to uplift the local artisans through the brand by incorporating handweaving into a contemporary trend that will reach the consumer demand.
UDAK believes that to end generational poverty, we must generate economic opportunities for these talented local artisans to provide for themselves. These traditional textile techniques have the power to provide authentic designs to make the product more authentic and expressive.
UDAK’s take on clothing will encompass practicality, multi-tasking, comfort and uniqueness. We value a good relationship with the consumer, interact with them and get their feedback on the garment and progress as necessary. The range of clothing will feature exaggerated necklines, sleeve lengths and asymmetric details. Each range will consist of a colour story inspired by spectacular locations in Sri Lanka that incorporates earthy tones fused with bright contrasting hues to make it easy to dress up or dress down.
Q: What’s UDAKS’s vision?

A: Our aim is to build up a business model focused on the economic and social development of the family of artisans we closely work with. Also, more than a workforce, UDAK considers these artisans as close family. Our goal is to support these artisans to continue their passion and improve their livelihoods by reaching out a contemporary audience and tell our story through a range of unique, contemporary and edgy UDAK range of clothing.
Furthermore, by incorporating Ududumbara hand weaving, UDAK strives to decrease to the minimum use of machinery in the production process.
Our aim is to create artisanal clothing that is made with traditional tools in the contemporary world contexts, that will follow an alternative compared to fast fashion – low- volume, high- value logic.

Q: UDAK creates clothes that fit the sustainability mould. But where do these ideas come from?

A: Textile and clothing are deep entities. They either show to our community who we are; they give the individual a unique identity and enrich the personal identity.
Handweaving in Sri Lanka is passed on from generation to another, and these textile inheritances become narrative objects of great sentimental value. These historical value in handweaving and the artisans who have been working on it for generations to generations was the main inspiration behind the brand.

Q: Sustainable fashion is a rising subject and many of the upcoming brands have chosen to go green. How does UDAK stand out from the rest?

A: By incorporating handwoven panels, UDAK will offer an exclusive range for those of you who turn basics into contemporary statement pieces with a genuine story. With the rise of multiple brands and products around the world, it will come to a point where consumers will require authenticity from each brand. As a brand born in Sri Lanka, UDAK will offer exclusive pieces which incorporates a part of Sri Lankan culture. Each garment will consist of an Ududumbara handwoven panel with a conceptual story. And the consumer support is the principal optimism of the brand as with each purchase, these artisans will have the ability to grow and live a better life as they deserve.

ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.

29th May, 2019 Applied Art